The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has reasserted his rejection of the much-disputed Regional Elections (Pilkada) Law, which mandates the replacement of direct elections for regional heads with indirect elections by regional legislatures.
'I oppose the new legislation. It is a setback for Indonesian democracy,' Yudhoyono said as quoted by Antara news agency on Friday.
He made the comments during the opening ceremony of the 7th Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) at Bali International Convention Center (BICC) in Nusa Dua, Badung regency, on Friday.
The President reaffirmed his support for direct elections and acknowledged that most Indonesian people opposed the scrapping of direct elections. 'I am fully aware that most Indonesian people have also rejected [the Pilkada bill],' he told BDF participants.
Representatives of 85 countries are attending the annual intergovernmental forum on the development of global democracy, which is cochaired by Yudhoyono and Philippines president Benigno 'Noynoy' Simeon Aquino III.
Despite his criticism, Yudhoyono expressed agreement with the views of several experts who said that direct elections had been marred with violations and manipulations. As a result, many regions were saddled with incompetent or corrupt regional leaders.
'I saw many candidates who, in my view, did not have the capacity, but could easily enter into the election process. Nevertheless, we should not respond to this problem by replacing direct elections with indirect elections,' said Yudhoyono.
Reforming the direct election system, which would enable people to choose better leaders, was the right way forward, he continued.
Yudhoyono added that the government had issued a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) to replace the newly passed law.
'I issued the Perppu to enact regulation to guarantee the people's right to choose their leaders directly,' said Yudhoyono. (dyl/ebf)
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